By Jacqueline Hyman
Not everyone stays in their studied field after college, but former Mitzpeh editor Dana Talesnik (Steinberg) is still going strong in journalism, writing and editing at the NIH Record.
As a staff writer for the Record, Talesnik does everything from covering speeches and events happening at the National Institutes of Health to answering correspondence from readers. She said it has been hard to adjust to the science aspect of writing, but that she enjoys learning new things.
“I remember that I am always writing for a general audience,” she said. “I’ve surprised myself, where I’ve [turned] something that I’ve barely understood to something that was pretty interesting.”
She said she loves learning about different conditions and hearing people speak about these topics. “I get to kinda dip into all the different health issues and learn all the time, and that’s probably the best thing,” Talesnik said.
When Talesnik was a junior at the University of Maryland, she became editor-in-chief of this publication, a job that she believes helped shaped her journalism career. “It’s kind of an early […] experience that you are getting that is setting the stage for all the different skills that you’re going to need later on,” Talesnik said.
She freelanced for the Diamondback her freshman year, but moved onto the Mitzpeh as a sophomore staff writer. “I was interested in getting involved in the Jewish community,” Talesnik said, “and I felt that was a good way as a journalism student.”
Talesnik said she has always been interested in writing, even from a young age. “I just knew that was what I wanted to do […] right out of high school,” she said. And even though many newspapers and magazines are shutting down, she said she never regretted choosing a career in journalism.
“No matter what your career… whatever pursuits you follow,” she said, “the world will always need good writers and editors.”
In addition to her journalistic pursuits in college, Talesnik played flute in the pep band for three years and the marching band for two years. She also minored in Russian studies because of her acute interest in the Soviet Union, where she said most of her ancestors came from, and lived in the Language House in St. Mary’s Hall.
All of these activities took up the bulk of her time. “Between all the band practice and the newspaper, it was amazing I ever had time to go to class,” Talesnik said.
As the editor-in-chief of the Mitzpeh, Talesnik had the flexibility to publish her own ideas. But now that she is not her own boss, she said, it can get frustrating at times without free rein.
“Sometimes you feel like when you get into the real world, there are other forces at work, and so you don’t have the freedom that you have in college,” Talesnik said, “and so you have to work within constraints and other people’s ideas of how stories should look.”
Talesnik said that while the writing aspect of journalism can be frustrating for her at times, she really enjoys it as well as editing. “I find both of them really challenging, and so for all the frustration… it’s so rewarding,” she said.
Talesnik got married a year and a half ago, and recently gave birth to a baby boy named Ethan.
“He’s used to keeping us on our toes,” the new mother said. “ We’re exhausted but happy.”